GMOs – Am I paranoid or just a hippie?

I honestly don’t know enough about the topic scientifically to say with any actual authority whether I am right about this, but by golly, I’m going to have an opinion about it regardless!  There has been a recent news story about unapproved genetically modified wheat showing up in fields in Oregon recently.

 I know that humans have been “genetically modifying” food crops (by selectively breeding for particular attributes naturally occurring in those organisms) for thousands of years, however the newest batches of GMO foods are a little scarier(to me, at least).  Monsanto is a huge food conglomerate which is closely tied to the USDA and other governmental organizations.  They produce Round-Up, the stuff that you use to kill weeds.  A while back, they decided that it would pretty cool if you could just dust whole crops with Round-Up (they’d sell more of it, and it would be more convenient for farmers) and kill all of the weeds, but leave the targeted crop growing.  So they got to genetically modifying crops like soybeans and corn to be resistant to Round-Up.  It worked.  They patented their genetically modified seeds, and began selling them.  Then once enough farmers began using them, they began suing farmers who would save seeds from the previous year’s crops and replant them, because Monsanto owns the rights to the seeds.  Ok, kind of a dick move, but the farmers DID decide to buy from them and they DID know that those were the rules.  The problem is that normal seed-buying farmers that have fields that border those of Monsanto-buying farmers have experienced some amount of genetic drift, where pollinators would spread the genetic material around, wind, rain, flooding, whatever would somehow get Monsanto patented genetic material onto the normal farmer’s land.  Then they’d sue the farmers for patent infringement.   Monsanto has made a business of selling farmers seeds and crop chemicals; and has made a point of destroying the livelihoods of farmers NOT buying their products.

Monsanto as a company being total dicks and having questionable ties to certain federal regulation agencies is PERSONALLY enough for me to not want to buy their products (hence the eating clean thing), but it’s the  potential health concerns the seal the deal for me.  Of course there haven’t been any publicized studies relating the consumption of GMOs to many of the common health problems that we’re experiencing lately, but perhaps that’s because they’re in EVERYTHING, and the vast majority of America is eating them.  Over the last 50 years or so, we’ve experienced higher than normal rates of infertility, birth defects, autism, food allergies, cancers, etc.  Perhaps it’s eating foods that have been sprayed with poison, perhaps it’s eating all of the pesticides, perhaps it’s the genetic modification itself.  I’m not a researcher and really don’t know enough about all that stuff, but I still find it scary.

And GMOs are in like… everything.  The two main offenders are corn and soy.  Corn is in everything.  High fructose corn syrup is used as a sweetener in all sorts of stuff you wouldn’t expect it to be in… like bread.  Or peanut butter, ketchup, toothpaste, even whiskey and many beers!  Corn and soy are also the main contributors to most vegetable oils.  Soy isn’t quite as hidden i tons of everyday products, but it’s out there.  Corn and soy are also used quite often in animal feed.  Unless you’re buying grass fed beef, it’s been fed with corn and soy.  Pork, chickens, lambs, etc.  They’re also corn and soy fed. And farm raised fish?  You guessed it!  Milk, butter, eggs?  You guessed it!

So how do you avoid putting GMOs into your body?  Organic is an effective way to do so, but it tends to be pretty expensive.  Many “higher end” but non organic foods will have markers on the labels saying something along the lines of “contains no GMOs.”  At our local QFC, they don’t have any organic corn tortillas, but they DO have non-GMO ones.  I either buy organic or non-GMO tofu.  Grass fed, organic, or wild caught are your friends in terms of meat.  I still haven’t gotten there with meats.  We do only buy wild caught fish, and rarely buy beef, but do still buy “all natural” chicken for a few meals per week, which I’m sure is fed GMO corn.

It looks like wheat (which is everywhere) is on the no-no list now too.

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